I'm not sure if there is some government entity that is responsible for what English songs make it into China or not.
But no matter where I am in China everyone knows the same English songs. And they aren't necessarily the most popular ones from the US. Where did these songs come from? How did they get so popular?
First off you have to know a little bit more about party culture in China. Now I am not talking about drinking or clubs, but rather when my class or other group gets together to play games or celebrate a holiday of some sort. Unlike a western party where everyone mingles and has small conversations in smaller groups, parties in China usually include a game that includes everyone. There is a wonderfully simple but informative graphic about this created by Yang Liu who moved to Germany when he was 14 years old. This picture is entitled, "at the party." The blue represents a party in Germany while the red a party in China.
Usually at these parties the games include a "punishment" where the loser must either sing a song, recite a poem or do a dance. Now you may say, " but I can't sing." Trust me, this doesn't matter. You will hear plenty of people who can't sing choose to sing a song as their punishment.
Now if you are like me, you want to sing a song everyone knows. You know like Sweet Home Alabama or Sweet Caroline. However these Karaoke standards are strangely absent in China. So what English songs do they know? Well you are in luck because I have a small list of songs that are guaranteed to be known by your mainland Chinese friends.
The List of English Songs Everyone Knows in China. (not a complete list)
This is a sub list of English songs that never came to the US that are or were insanely popular in China.
There seems to be theme of super sappy love songs combined with simple English so the average English student won't have a problem singing it. What can we say, sappy romance sells! So if you are starting a band and trying to break into the China scene you better have simple lyrics that verge on cheesy. Good luck.
Oh yeah also if you find yourself in a KTV joint (China's version of Karaoke bar) I guarantee these songs will also be available. However I can't promise the spelling will be correct.
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